27 December 2010

Book Review No. 42

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Summary: Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home with a degree from Ole Miss, but her mother won't be happy until she has a ring on her finger. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue so she can't keep a job. It's 1962, and these three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step that forever changes a town and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. (taken from the back of the book)

My Critique: I'll be honest, I was not excited about reading this book. I didn't really know anything about it other than the idle chatter I'd overheard but it was selected as our book club selection for January so I read it. And I have to say...I liked it quite a bit actually. I'm incredibly sensitive to race issues because I feel so passionately about how people are people regardless of the color of their skin. As I was reading this book I was so apprehensive, worried that it wouldn't end the way I wanted it to. But I have to say that I was captivated by this book and the three protagonists, with their own distinctive voices, was a hugely successful writing device for the author. And for this to have been her first book is incredibly impressive. At first I was thrown off by Aibileen and Minny's dialog as it was written in their dialect but it didn't take long to get used to it. You can almost feel the social/racial tension in this book while you're reading it. I would highly recommend you read this book.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, The Help, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with the afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas---------------uh, nevermind.

10 November 2010

I prefer happy endings if you know what I mean...

Alright so look folks...I love a happy ending. I can't help myself. If I'm watching a movie or reading a book and there is a sad ending I get really mad and just that one tiny part of the plot will ruin the entire book/movie for me. It's true. Well recently I was watching a movie that I had prepared myself for...I knew it would be sad--there just wasn't any way around that--but I wasn't prepared for the stupidity of the sadness. I absolutely hate it when characters die for no good reason!
WARNING: This post contains spoilers.

Here's what I'm talking about folks:

It all started when I got A Single Man from Netflix. I was excited to watch this movie because of the sexiness that is Colin Firth. I knew ahead of time it was going to be sad...I mean it's about a man who loses his love. The entire movie follows George (Colin Firth) throughout one day. It's been 8 months since his partner of 16 years has died and he can't deal. He fully intends to kill himself. He prepares the entire day to do this. He lays out his clothes to be buried in, he gets all his important documents out of the bank safe deposit box, he writes farewell letters to all the people he loves, and he has one last meal with his BFF. Enter hunky college student who is seeking a little older man lovin and George starts to realize he can heal from his hurt. He starts to see a future...he comes to a place of acceptance if you will. He locks away the gun and throws his suicide notes in the fire and sighs a giant sigh of relief. You can literally see the weight leaving him....................................and then he reaches for a glass of water, has a heart attack, and dies. Stupid! Don't they know that can't just kill of Mr. Darcy with a stupid heart attack?!?! The thing that pissed me off most was that his whole journey was to discover that there was life to live...and then he dies of a heart attack?!? What kind of message does that send to people who are contemplating suicide? Life sucks anyway, you're going to die anyway, maybe in a couple of seconds so just do it already? Stupid.

I was irate! And then I got to thinking...it's not just this movie...oh no...there are others. Here are just a few I thought of without having to think too in-depth:

Atonement. A movie about a somewhat forbidden love affair. The whole movie is centered around this great love Robbie and Cecilia have for each other but because of Cecilia's bratty and nosey sister everything is derailed. Robbie gets accused of bad things and it's like the freaking Salem Witch Trials. In the end they find their way back to each other...they never stop loving each other and the finally get to have their great love............................except that they don't...because they both DIED. Robbie died of some war injury and Cecilia died in a water/bomb incident. Stupid. Just let them be happy already...but I guess any relationship that begins with sex in a library is doomed from the beginning right?

And then there's this little gem:

"Run, Forrest! Run!" was a catch phrase for a hot minute and it was spoken by none other than Jenny. Forrest Gump and Jenny didn't have an immediate love affair, though Forrest loved her from day 1. Fast forward a few years and Forrest gets big, saves some guy named Ryan, gets AIDS, and solves the mystery of the Holy Grail.....oh wait...what really happens is he plays some ping-pong and meets a shrimp-lovin guy named Bubba. Oh yeah...and he still loves Jenny. They finally hook up and get married and they live happily ever after.....................until Jenny dies of a "virus" that we all know is really AIDS. Stupid! They're supposed to be like peas and carrots dangit!

And who can forget:

Brokeback Mountain is the story of two buddies who like to go fishin in the mountains......oh yeah, and occassionally they have sex with each other. Jack and Ennis develop and intense love for each other but Ennis can't tell Jack because he can only speak in one-syllable words...oh, and because of the whole "no gay people allowed" clause of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. So they just meet up every so often to "fish" until the day Ennis finds out that Jack left his wife and they're running away together.............except that he's DEAD. He died in a freak "tire accident" which is code for some ignorant fools beat him to death. Stupid! I just can't understand why movies always have this in their plots. You know what else I can't do? I can't quit Jake Gyllenhaal.

And don't even get me started on the whole Sun/Jin debacle from Lost:

The whole thing is so stupid I can't even speak of it...

29 October 2010

Book Review No. 41

So I'll be the first one to freely admit that I'm a quitter. I lasted all of 4 books on the "Banned Books List" before I'm ready to jump ship. It's not that I don't want to read banned books anymore, it's just that there are so many other things I want to read immediately--The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is at the top of my list as is The Kite Runner which is our next book club selection. I hosted our October book club and as I was all hyped up on Banned Books and I love a little controversy, I chose Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews--a book I had read when I was 16 and knew I wanted to revisit. Nothing like a little incest to get the discussion going...

So since I hosted this book, I did a bit more research than I normally would invest in a book so this book review will be a bit longer than my normal ones and will contain a few additional sections. But it's all intersting stuff--assuming you're a giant literary nerd like me. And here comes the big disclaimer: it's safe to assume that this post will contain SPOILERS so don't read it if you don't wanna know how it ends! Go read the book, then come back to this post. :)

Moving on...

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Original Publish Date: 1979

Summary: I'll just leave you with this little blurb found from Google Books: "Way upstairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent little secrets, struggling to stay alive." *cue mysterious music now* I bet you're intrigued if nothing else right? Good.

My thoughts exactly: While researching this book, I came across an article written by Heidi Durrow of NPR where she admits that this books is her guilty pleasure. I thought she summed up my thoughts and feelings about why I love this book. Here's what she had to say:
"Flowers in the Attic is my guilty pleasure. I wish I could say that I love this book because it's a classic coming-of-age tale; a story of fierce familial bonds, and feelings of alienation and belonging. But it's not that at all. This story is just twisted. Told from the perspective of the teenage daughter Cathy, the story is about the four beautiful blond-haired Dollanganger kids, who are forced to live in the attic while their cruel and coniving mother earns back her father's affection and ultimately his fortune. The promised days-long confinement stretches into weeks and then years--yes, years! All the while, the kids are starved and tormented by the religiously overzealous grandmother who beats them with her bamboo whip and tars poor Cathy's hair while she's drugged in her sleep. It's a sick, sick tale--and I love it--and I can't help but wonder if that makes me twisted as well. It's a tale of forbidden love--not the Romeo & Juliet kind when the lover is from the wrong family. This is forbidden love because the lover is in the same family. It's scandalous. And I know that I should turn away from the passages when Cathy and her brother Chris seem to be falling for each other but still, I eagerly read on...

A little background--About V.C. Andrews:
V.C. Andrews was born Cleo Virginia Andrews on June 6, 1923 and died from breast cancer on December 19, 1986. While in high school she fell down a stairwell which, combined with poor medical care, led to severe progressive arthritis and she underwent several surgeries on her back. She was in chronic pain and spent much of her life on crutches or in a wheelchair. She had a relatively good life with no evidence of abuse or incest; however, her life was controlled by her mother--and it is interesting that she chose to dedicate this book to her mother--a book about an evil, greedy, selfish, abusive mother dedicated to her mother? Her mother was very private and didn't like the publicity associated with her daughter's fame. She was ashamed of Virginia's medical condition and didn't allow many visitors and even lied to say she was simply recovering from surgery. Therefore, Virginia suffered from clinical depression and even tried to kill herself twice. She turned to writing to escape the dullness of her day-to-day life. She was strikingly beautiful but photos published in a People Magazine article from 1980 were altered to make her appear shadowed and dark to fit with her genre of writing (gothic horror). This interview infuriated her to the point that she refused interviews for the rest of her career and stands as her only published interview.
A little background--About Flowers in the Attic:
This book was originally titled The Obsessed but it was returned and Virginia was told to "spice it up" so she did a 98 page revision and added "unspeakable things my mother didn't want me to write about" and published it as Flowers in the Attic. It has long been speculated as to whether this is a true story or not. Virginia admitted that a few incidents are autobiographical and in 2009 one of her relatives publically said, "Flowers in the Attic was based on a true story. Virginia was a young lady when my dad made arrangements to take her to the University of Virginia hospital for treatment. While she was there, she developed a crush on her young doctor. He and his siblings had been locked away in the attic for over 6 years to preserve the family wealth. Obviously she cut the time back [in her novel] to be more believable. That area of the country has a lot of very wealthy people. I do not know who they were." There is no evidence or proof as to who the doctor was or if his story was actually true; however, in Virginia's pitch letter to the publishing house, she hints that it is a true story. She states, "This is the fictionalized version of a true story. Real children who struggled to survive under almost unendurable circumstances. Basically a horror story...I call my novel, which is not truly fiction...FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC." A film adaptation of the book was made in 1987 but it doesn't remain true to the book at all. Supposedly they are in talks to remake the movie with a more accurate representation of the plot but nothing is confirmed as of yet.
Wanna know more? There is a great website http://www.completevca.com/ that has tons of information about V.C. Andrews and her other writings.
Why it was banned/challenged:
Extreme themes of sibling incest and child abuse and neglect.
The Children: Chris (14), Cathy (12), and twins Carrie & Cory (5)
My Critique:
Love love love this book! I read it when I was 16 but now at 31 I had a completely different perspective. As a teen I was drawn in by the sex/incest because it was so taboo...it was shocking and that kept me glued to the pages until the bitter end. However, this time around I found myself sympathizing with the kids and completely furious with the mother. I remember as a teen I came away blaming the grandmother for everything and somehow completely missed the mother's greed/selfish behavior. This time around I found myself wanting to jump through the pages and smack her. She pissed me off so bad! I've never hated a character more than I hated the mother in this book. I will definiately be reading the books that follow in this series.
Why it's a good book club selection:
It is so incredibly controversial and it sparks BIG emotions in people. For example, I love this book but the first thing my friend Mindy said when she came it was, "I hated this book so much! Never have I hated a book more than this!!" She was so furious with the mother in the book that she was almost sick reading the book. This is exactly why I chose this book. It sparks a reaction which leads to great discussion. We delved into the psychology of the characters and our friend Rachael provided some great insights into the psyche of abused children thanks to her psychology studies. It took us beyond the realm of the book and even led to discussions of survival...what would we do to survive...fight or give up? Very good discussion.
Possible Discussion Topics/Questions:
Had you read this book before? How has your perspective changed this time around?
All About the Incest:
Incest is a constant theme throughout V.C. Andrews' books. There is no evidence to suggest that Virginia herself was a particpant/victim of any sort of incest during her lifetime but one has to wonder. In fact, her very first publication was a short story titled I Slept With My Uncle on My Wedding Night. Of course, this could be because incest was a common theme in gothic horrir novels at the time--or because she experience such soaring fame after adding this subject matter to Flowers in the Attic that she decided to keep it a running theme throughout her works.
Do you think the love between Chris and Cathy was an inevitable happening due to their circumstances or was it the result of their grandmother's forbidding it and her constant reminder of lustfulness? OR was it inevitable due to their family history of incest (i.e. their mother and her half-uncle)?
Let's Talk About the Father (Christopher):
He's supposed to be the tragic hero of sorts in this scenario (if he hadn't died their perfect lives wouldn't have been destroyed) but did you find him at all manipulative? Consider the following passage: "Do you love me? For I most certainly love you; did you miss me? Are you glad I'm home? Did you think about me when I was gone? Every night? Did you toss and turn and wish I were behind you, holding you close? For if you didn't, Corrine, I might want to die."
Chris vs. Cathy:
Do you think Chris had a sort of Freudian fascination with his mother? Chris is so naive. It seems that Cathy is the only one who sees their mother for who she really is. Why does Chris remain loyal to his mother for so long? Do you blame Christopher for Cory's death because he refused to leave earlier?
Mother vs. Grandmother:
Who's to blame for their situation...the mother or the grandmother?
Do you think the mother ever planned to take the kids out of the attic or did she have this plan to lock them away and poison them all along? Do you think she was sincere in her thoughts to win back her father's love and thereby her inheritance? (During the chapter titled "Momma's Story" she seems to know how the story in regards to the children will play out).
Who do you think was poisoning the children? If Corrine was poisoning them, why did she continue to visit them after they were being poisoned? Also, if it was Corrine, do you think the grandmother knew? Then again, Corrine got married and moved away and still the powdered donuts were coming...surely in her selfishness she didn't come back every day to make their basket of food which leads one to wonder if maybe it was the grandmother.
Do you think they actually took Cory to the hospital?
Hope you've enjoyed my little bloggy-poo. Now, if you haven't read the book...READ IT! Talk amongst yourselves.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Flowers in the Attic, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with the afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas---------------uh, nevermind.

04 October 2010

And who doesn't love makeup anyway?

Hi guys. Just started reading book 3 on the banned books list so be expecting a review of Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews soon.

I wanted to pass along the blog site of my beautiful and talented friend Kendra.
See...beautiful. Told ya

Kendra has started a blog all about makeup and skin care. You should totally check it out. Right now she's doing a lots of really great Halloween looks.


28 September 2010

Book Review No. 40

...3 down, 97 to go...

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Original Publish Date: 1899
**Warning--this Summary contains SPOILERS so don't read it if you don't wanna know how it ends!**
When the book opens, Edna Pontellier is an obedient wife and mother vacationing at Grand Isle with her family. While there, however, Edna becomes close to a young man named Robert Lebrun. Before they act on their mutual romantic interest in each other, Robert leaves for Mexico. Edna is lonely without his companionship, but shortly after her return to New Orleans (where she usually lives with her family), she picks up the male equivalent of a mistress. Although she does not love Alcee Arobin, he awakens various sexual passions within her.
Concurrent to Edna's sexual awakening is her determination for independence. Instead of spending her days concerned with household matters, Edna pursues her interest in painting. Rather than depending financially on her husband, Edna moves into a house of her own. by the time Robert returns, professing his love for Edna and his desire to someday marry her, Edna can no longer handle societal strictures--particularly marriage. Without finishing the conversation about their future, Robert leaves Edna. Heartbroken, she returns to Grand Isle. Once there, she swims far out to sea and presumably drowns. (taken from http://www.shmoop.com/)
Why it was banned/challenged:
It was criticized for being immoral and scandalous.
My Critique:
I'm gonna go ahead and be honest--I'm slightly ashamed that I had never read this book before. I mean I'm from Louisiana AND I have a degree in Literature--how could I have escaped reading it until now?!?! At any rate, this book was chosen for us to read for this month's book club and it's handy that it also happens to be on the Banned Books List which I'm ready through. I'll also go ahead and be honest and just flat out say--I couldn't stand Edna Pontellier. She is perhaps one of the most selfish characters I've ever come across. Which is what our discussion at book club focused a lot on--Edna Pontellier...selfish or empowered? Cowardly or courageous? The summary above didn't even mention her children--the very children that I feel she resented--the very children she left behind in her selfish/cowardly act of suicide. Also this book was very slow moving and it has a TON of phrases in French so if you're going to read it I suggest you buy a copy that has footnotes because I missed out on some stuff by not understanding the French. While I didn't care for the book I can see why it is considered a classic.
So...was I profoundly affected by this book? No. Am I glad I read it? Yes.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, The Awakening, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with the afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas-------------uh, nevermind.

16 September 2010

Book Review No. 39

...2 down, 98 to go...

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Original Publish Date: 1951

The story of teenager Holden Caulfield's turbulent last few days before his Christmas vacation. During these days, Holden leaves Pencey Prep, a boy's school he's been kicked out of, and takes off for a few nights alone in New York City. (taken from http://www.bookrags.com/)

Why it was banned/challenged:
Frequently challenged because of language and sexual references.

My Critique:
Once again I find myself let down by one of the classics. I've read this before and the only thing I remembered about it was that I didn't like it. And upon re-reading it, I still don't like it. I don't understand why it is such a "classic." Foul language is scattered across the pages with no more consistency than dice rolled in a game of Yahtzee!. There is no rhyme or reason for them and because of them the sentences are very fragmented/choppy...so choppy, in fact, that oftentimes I'd have to re-read a sentence a few times before I even comprehended what it was saying because the real "meat" of it was interupted so frequently by that damn language. (haha...pun intended) And while I have no real moral objection to the language, nor do I find it particularly offensive, it's just so incredibly unnecessary. If I had to sum up this novel in one word it would be manic. The whole tone of the novel felt manic to me and Holden has some serious bi-polar issues to work out. Also, the book never comes to any sort of conclusion and I never saw a real point to his telling of the story--I never understood why were were hearing these stories from him. Just an all-around disappointment.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, The Catcher in the Rye, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with the afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas-------uh, nevermind.

15 September 2010

Book Review No. 38

...1 down, 99 to go...

As promised...here's my review of the first book from the ALA's Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books List.

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Original publish date: 1925

The novel follows the young Nick Carraway as he recounts a summer in the 1920s that he spent in New York. It centers on his relationship with his cousin, Daisy, her husband, Tom, and how he gets drawn into the middle of Daisy's affair with his neighbor, the mysteriously wealthy, unabashedly charming Mr. Jay Gatsby. (taken from TheCelebrityCafe.com)
Why it was banned/challenged:
Frequently challenged because of language and sexual references.
My Critique:
What a letdown! I'll be honest and say I knew nothing about this book before reading it. While I've been an avid reader all my life, my English classes were sorely lacking in terms of literature requirements so I was never required to read this and therefore knew nothing about it. I kinda liked it that way--that way I didn't go in to this with any preconceived notions about the book. The book was incredibly slow moving and, I gotta be honest, a complete disappointment. I have no idea why this book is revered as such a classic--it was so dull.
Anyway, that's my two cents...
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, The Great Gatsby, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with the afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------uh, nevermind.

03 September 2010

Banned/Challenged Books

Hey folks! Well I've decided to take on a little project and read through the ALA's Top 100 Banned and/or Challenged Books list. That list can be found by clicking the title of this post. Any way, I've just begun and am now on Book #2. I'll post book reviews as I go along. Speaking of book reviews, I think I'm going to do away with the whole Kit Kat Bar rating system...let's be honest, Kit Kats aren't the cool kids anymore and the system has no merit whatsoever anyway.
Glad you're along for the ride.

22 April 2010

Super Easy and Delicious Low-Carb (crustless) Quiche

Made this last night. Ragan said I'm hitting homeruns with my new recipes. I made a chicken and mushroom pasta in a white wine sauce the other night. I'll post that recipe later.

Low-Carb Crustless Quiche
6 slices bacon, diced
6 eggs
2 cups shredded cheese (your choice)
Onion, diced
Couple cloves of garlic
Mushrooms, sliced
Salt/Pepper to taste
Splash of milk (or chicken broth)**

The good thing about this quiche is you can take your eggs and cheese and basically you can do anything you want with it. This recipe isn't exact because I kinda did my own thing...threw in whatever I wanted (the recipe only called for onions and spinach--no bacon--but I added the bacon, garlic, and mushrooms).

Preheat oven to 350

In a skillet, cook the bacon until it's as crispy as you want it. Once the bacon is done, drain the grease. In that same skillet add your diced onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauté until the onions are clear and the mushrooms are tender. Throw in as much fresh spinach as you want and wilt it down.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk the 6 eggs until they are beaten. Add the cheese and salt/pepper and mix well. (**Here's my own note: I thought it looked a little too thick so I added a splash of chicken broth--I would've used milk but I was out) Once the onion/garlic/spinach gets done, add that and the bacon to the egg mixture and mix well.

Pour egg mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.


Shrimp & Grits Recipe

So I have heard of Shrimp & Grits and that it's a classic south-eastern food, I had never had it. I found a recipe and tweaked it just a bit. Ragan said it was easily one of the best things I've ever cooked so I'm sharing it with you:
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheese (your choice, something like cheddar is good)
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined***
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons parsley (fresh is preferred but dried is ok)
6 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to your taste)
***Ragan wouldn't let me use fresh shrimp because he was grossed out by their grayish color. So I used frozen already cooked cocktail shrimp that I thawed and decreased the cooking time by half (1 1/2 minutes each time whereas the recipe calls for 3 minutes). Also the original recipe didn't have cayenne pepper but I had to spice it up just a bit...you can absolutely leave this out if you want. And the original recipe also called for cheddar cheese but I used a shredded monteray jack and it was yummy.
Also note, this recipe calls for you make the grits first, set aside, and then do the rest of the recipe. I did that but the grits were cold so next time I'll try to time it a little better.
Bring chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat; stir in grits. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in salt, pepper, butter, and cheese. Set aside to keep warm.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon from pan. (Just FYI, whoever wrote this recipe has a seriously distorted view of how long it acutally takes bacon to cook to a crisp...it probably wasn't even warm all the way through by 3 minutes...it's more like 3 or 4 or 5 times that cooking time depending on how crisp you want it)Cook shrimp in same pan over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until almost pink, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice, worchestershire sauce, parsley, green onions, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Cook 3 minutes. Stir in bacon.Spoon grits onto individual plates or into shallow bowls; top with shrimp mixture. Serve immediately.
I served mine with garlic bread but a light side salad would also be nice.
4 servings

20 April 2010

Book Review No. 37

It's no secret that I love love love Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. In my opinion, it's one of the greatest romances ever put to page. So when an assignment was presented at school where I had to give booktalks on a certain theme/topic, it was an easy decision to choose Pride & Prejudice as my theme. And thus The Other Side of the Story: Pride & Prejudice Revisited was born. A booktalk is basically to a book what a movie trailer is to a movie--you attempt to hook in the audience so that they want to read the book without giving away too much of the plot. I really enjoyed preparing for this assignment because it gave me a chance to immerse myself in all things Pride & Prejudice. I've alreayd posted a book review (No. 36) about one book used for this assignment, Vampire Darcy's Desire by Regina Jeffers, so here is my review for Darcy's Story (Pride & Prejudice told from Mr. Darcy's perspective).

Let's roll...

Book Review No. 37
Title: Darcy's Story: Pride & Prejudice Told From a Whole New Perspective
Author: Janey Aylmer
Jane Austen’s classic Pride & Prejudice has long stood among the most beloved novels of all time. The story of Elizabeth Bennet’s blossoming romance with “haughty, reserved, and fastidious” Fitzwilliam Darcy has enchanted readers for nearly two centuries. Yet, Mr. Darcy has always remained an intriguing enigma—his thoughts, feelings, and motivations hidden behind a cold, impenetrable exterior…until now. With the utmost respect for Austen’s original masterwork, author Janet Aylmer lovingly retells Pride & Prejudice from a bold new perspective; seeing events as they transpire through the eyes of Darcy himself. One of the world’s great love stories takes on breathtaking new life, and one of fiction’s greatest romantic heroes becomes even more sympathetic, compelling, attractive, and accessible, all through the imagination and artistry of a truly gifted storyteller. (taken from back of book)
From the Booktalk:
My name is Fitzwilliam Darcy. People see me as a proud individual, having no patience for those in a lesser station than myself. I wish people could see me for who I am—which is why I’m telling my story—the story of how I fell in love with Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

I am fortunate to have been born into a family of wealth. I learned a long time ago that when people look at me, they mostly look past me and see only my wealth. I’ll be honest, this has helped me achieve success and respect in life. But it is a lonely existence. I desperately desire to marry for love but the only women who are presented to me are only interested because of my wealth and status in life. Society tells me that I must marry someone that is my societal equal—but what if I don’t love them? Should I be resolved to settle for a life of complacency? Perhaps I will never marry.

That was my philosophy—until the day I met Elizabeth Bennet. See my good friend Charles Bingley let a house in Netherfield and longing to get out of the City for a while, I thought the country air would be just what I needed. Though I dreaded the country society and customs, I took part so as not to bring disfavor on Bingley. It was at a ball that I first saw Elizabeth Bennet. Immediately I was drawn in by her beauty but more so by her quick wit and charm. She didn’t hesitate to disagree with me and did not seem deterred by my wealth. She was unlike any woman I had ever met and I was smitten.

I fought my feelings for her because it would be a scandal to marry someone of such a low station in life and I have responsibilities that come with my station in life after all. But my fight was in vain. I fell in love with Elizabeth and my life forever changed—for the better.

Now, the question is—do you want to know the rest of the story???
My Critique:
This book is one of my favorites--right up there with the original. I knew that I liked it already because I had already read it. This is one of those books you'll continue to read over and over again. The author takes the sympathetic view of Darcy that I do and does a good job revealing his character while keeping the language consistent with the original work.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Darcy's Story, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with the afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas--uh, nevermind.

15 April 2010

No Regrets

I pride myself on my platform of not believing in regrets. For so long now I've held firmly to the belief that you should never regret anything because (a) you can't change it, and (b) make yourself happy, make the best decisions for yourself that you know how to make, based on the information you have and the beliefs you hold, and no matter the outcome, you won't regret it because you did the best that you could.
BUT...lately I've just had this unsettled feeling--a general sense unrest. And when that happens I tend to start questioning and second guessing every major life decision I've ever made--and even some minor ones. I hate when this happens because usually the ones I love suffer most. I get really moody and am just not pleasant to be around...because I'm lost in my thoughts.
I begin to wonder if my steadfast belief in NO REGRETS has validity. Is it the selfish impulse of an independent free-spirit or is it a valid life choice? Can we avoid regrets? Or are they inevitable?
My hope is this...on my dying day I will look back on my life and truly, honestly say, "I wouldn't have changed a thing."

11 April 2010

Book Review No. 36

Back when Myspace was all the rage for a hot minute I started posting book reviews of books I read. I haven't posted one in ages because going to school and working full-time I haven't had much time for leisure reading. However, I just read a book that I really enjoyed--and while it was not for leisure per sae, it was entertaining. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I'm pretty much obsessed with Pride & Prejudice and all things associated with one, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Anyway, Book Reviews Numbers 1 thru 35 are lost over in Myspace land and I might attempt to move them over here but for now, we'll pick up where I left off...

Book Review No. 36

Book Title: Vampire Darcy's Desire
Author: Regina Jeffers
Publication Info: Ulysses Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-56975-731-4
Vampire Darcy's Desire presents Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice as a heart-pounding vampire romance filled with passion and danger. Tormented by a 200-year-old curse and his fate as a half-human/half-vampire dhampir, Mr. Darcy vows to live forever alone rather than inflict the horrors of life as a vampire on an innocent wife. But when he comes to Netherfield Park, he meets the captivating Elizabeth Bennet. As a man, Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, but as a vampire, he is also driven to possess her. Uncontrollably drawn to each other, they are forced to confront a "pride and prejudice" never before imagined--while wrestling with the seductive power of forbidden love. Meanwhile, dark forces are at work all around them. Most ominous is the threat from George Wickham, the purveyor of the curse, a demon who vows to destroy each generation of Darcys. Written in authentic Austen style and faithful to its Regency-era setting, Vampire Darcy's Desire retells the greatest love story of all time in a hauntingly imaginative fashion.
(taken from the back of the book)
My Critique:
I'll be the first to admit that I was very apprehensive at first of reading this book. I'm somewhat of a purist when it comes to my Austen, but more specifically when it comes to my Darcy and Elizabeth. But, as class assignments often do, I was forced to read it and I was very pleasantly surprised. From almost the first paragraph I was hooked...I couldn't put it down (just ask my poor neglected hubby). Now I must mention that I never jumped on the Twilight bandwagon. I read it at the insistance of several of my friends and I found it to be pretty much one big cheesy letdown. This book, however, is like Pride & Prejudice meets Twilight only it's about 437 times better than the melodramatic teen drama. Simply put, this was the best book I've read in a very long time--then again, it's pretty much the only book I've read in a very long time. Nonetheless, I would recommend this book as one to be read. I would especially think it would be good for those of you who are reluctant readers but who are all about the whole vampire craze.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Vampire Darcy's Desire, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with the afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas--uh, nevermind.

08 April 2010

Bare Your Sole

I'm bare-ing my sole today for One Day Without Shoes. What are you talking about? I'm glad you asked. One Day Without Shoes is an annual event sponsored by TOMS Shoes (a shoe company asking you to NOT wear shoes...what a concept) to raise awareness for the millions of people in our world who must live day to day without the luxury of shoes on their feet. As a shoe lover, this thought was very humbling to me. Far too often I get blinded by my own little world and have no thought of those less fortunate than me (both in my own country and others). Here are some facts:
  • In some developing nations, children must walk for miles to school, clean water and to seek medical help.
  • Cuts and sores on feet can lead to serious infection.
  • Often, children cannot attend school barefoot.
  • In Ethiopia, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil.
  • Podoconiosis is 100% preventable with basic foot hygiene and wearing shoes.

How sad that millions of people are suffering a 100% preventable disease simply because they don't have shoes! So I've joined the cause...my own one-man revolution. I'll probably get reprimanded at work for not being "professional." I know I'm going to not like it because I don't like going barefoot...but at least for me at the end of the day I have shoes...it's a choice for me, for millions it's the only way of life they know.

How can you help? For every pair of shoes you buy from TOMS, they donate one brand new pair of shoes to a child in need.

That's all find an good but what if I have used shoes that I would like to donate to those in need? There's a wonderful organization called Soles 4 Souls that accept donations. You can send new or used shoes to them via UPS since there isn't a location near us. You only have to pay your shipping costs.

Check out TOMS website at: http://www.toms.com/ or http://www.onedaywithoutshoes.com/

Check out Soles 4 Souls at: http://www.soles4souls.org

23 March 2010

I'm not cut out for drug addiction

After having surgery last week and taking Percocet almost daily, I realized one very important thing about myself...I'm not cut out for drug addiction. No--I'm not addicted to the pain meds I'm just saying, I would make a horrible drug addict...I would do nothing but sleep all the time. I hated the woozy/dizzy/spinny feeling the meds gave me right before I collapsed in bed and slept it off. I'm practically in a coma when I take meds that "cause drowsiness." I don't like to not feel in control of my body--this is why I don't drink (well that and most alcoholic beverages taste like feet). So there ya go...now you can quit worrying that I'll become the next Michael Jackson/Brittany Murphy/Corey Haim/Heath Ledger/Anna Nicole Smith who dies of an accidental overdose or whatever it is.
"She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie...cocaine." (Cocaine, by Eric Clapton)

20 March 2010

Purple Boots

I stood in the mirror for a full 30 minutes admiring my new purple knee-boots. I was so excited when my friend Kristy gave them to me...and the best part was...THEY FIT! She had bought them when she was pregnant and wore them throughout her pregnancy. But now that she wasn't pregnant anymore, they didn't fit her--they were too big around the calves. Good thing I had bigger calves and could fill them out...in fact I generally had trouble finding knee-boots that would acutally fit my calves. Usually the boots were too narrow in the shaft leaving me desolate and alone...without benefit of trendy boots. Not only did these new purple boots fit...they fit OVER my jeans...and bonus...they were purple!!!!!!!!! It's only my most favorite color in the world.
Now.........if only this hadn't been a dream..............

10 March 2010

Eight Days

She had only known she was pregnant for eight days when she lost the baby. Most people just call it an embryo—a chemical pregnancy—to her it was the death of her baby, the heartbreaking end to a precious life that had barely even begun to form. Her doctor tried to reassure her by saying that “These things happen all the time---about 50% of pregnancies end this way and often the women didn’t even know they were pregnant in the first place.” How is this comforting she thought. How is this supposed to give me hope? Her friends and family were all very supportive sending her cards, and flowers, and discretely asking her how she was doing. Outwardly she kept it together but it was in the solitude of her morning shower that she let the tears fall. She was so grateful to have the love of her friends--surrounding her with their silent prayers. Seeing the sadness on the face of her husband was unbearable. How is it possible to go from such extreme joy to such disparaging sadness in such a short time—only eight days. Eight days to experience pregnancy. Eight days to bond with her newly forming baby. Eight days to rejoice over this tiny life. How long will she grieve for this baby she only knew for eight days? She doesn’t know. But one thing she knows for sure--she is strong--she is fierce--this miscarriage will not defeat her--she will prevail.

Disclaimer: I promise that not all of my posts will be this depressing.

09 March 2010

Nice to Meet You Anyway

Hey there folks. Just wanted to introduce myself and let y'all know that I plan to use this little bloggy-poo to write what's on my mind--usually meaningless nonsensical drivel but sometimes you might find a gem or two. I like to write reviews of books I read and have done 35 of them elsewhere...I'll probably move that over to this forum. I want to maybe use this space to write some fictitious short stories. Pretty much just jotting my thoughts down and hoping you like them (assuming you actually read them). Try not to be overwhelmed by my quick wit and charm. ~xoxoxo~
Nice to Meet You Anyway (Gavin DeGraw)

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